'Abusive rabbi's' remand extended
Day after arriving in Israel from Brazil, remand of self-proclaimed rabbi Elior Chen suspected of instructing followers to abuse children, extended by eight days. Police announce plans to charge him with attempted murder, present evidence they say supports this clause
After being questioned by police Wednesday night, the remand of so-called 'abusive rabbi' Elior Chen, suspected of instructing his followers to abuse their children, was extended by eight days by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Thursday.
Justice Yitzhak Shimoni ruled that there was a risk of disruption of proceedings and a flight risk. Chen's lawyer, Ariel Atari said in response, "There is no flight risk. Chen has never violated a court order. He left the country before he was summoned for questioning."
At the remand hearing on Thursday, police attributed to Chen charges of attempted murder and submitted evidence to the court they say supports this clause.
Chen was seen grinning from ear-to-ear before the session, and said, "Injustice has been done."
The police's representative said at the hearing there were serious suspicions against Chen regarding deeds he committed against children fro a number of months. The police's representatives said he, along with others, abused and injured children to the point of hospitalization and medical treatment.
The police also claimed that Chen frequently threatened children, saying he would hurt them if they did not do his bidding and behave as he saw fit, and in many cases he did indeed hurt them.
Chen at remand hearing (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Chen wouldn't stop grinning before the hearing, and was joined by his family who came to show their support. Chen's father Yaakov said, "We are glad he is back in Israel. I wish the children a speedy recovery, my heart aches (for them). I believe in a fair trial, but not in the police. In the end, it will all come out, the entire truth."
Chen's mother, Vivian said, "My son is innocent. There is a court that will decide. God willing, you will be strong as I have raised you."
At the beginning of the hearing a police representative requested that Chen's attorney be disqualified for having met the abused children's mother. "We are holding an investigation against attorney Atari who represents Elior Chen. A hearing will be held in the coming days. We were told by the Bar Association that they would recommend suspending him. At the end of the investigation it will be decided whether to indict him," the representative said.
Atari commented in response, "The fact that the police chooses to open the hearing on Chen's case with this particular issue says a lot. After I retuned from Brazil I met with the children's mother, eight months before she turned state's evidence, until then she was a defense witness."
Attorney Atari claimed that Chen was wrong to leave the country since he's been getting "obnoxious headlines" ever since, and feels as though he's already been tried and convicted. "Elior Chen has complete faith in the legal system. We are distinguishing between the legal system and the police."
Commenting on the attempted murder suspicion Atari said, "It is all too clear to me that he will not stand trial on attempted murder since the State has never claimed that, not even during the extradition procedure."
Chen landed in Israel Wednesday afternoon after a 14-hour flight from Brazil, from which he was extradited. He was transferred to a Jerusalem police station where he was questioned.
Jerusalem Police's Zion District Commander Brig. Gen. Bruno Stein said on Wednesday, "We attribute to Elior Chen personal involvement in the abuse acts – the harm of children in a sadistic manner. His extradition and his return to Israel was a big issue for us. We went through a difficult time, and there is much satisfaction in his return to Israel and his prosecution."
Speaking to journalists at the police station, attorney Ariel Atari said he is waiting to see the charges attributed to his client. "In any case, these things never happened," he said.